The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in collaboration with the Area of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief (PED) of the Caribbean Programme Coordination, Barbados facilitated a wet workshop entitled: "Improved Preparedness for Cholera and Outbreak of Other Diarrhoeal Diseases". This workshop was held at CAREC training laboratory during the period 14 to 17 March, 2011.
Participants included laboratory technologists from CAREC member countries with practical experience working in Bacteriology/ Microbiology departments, and persons expected to be actively involved in the sensitization of colleagues at institutional and country level in the preparedness and response for cholera and outbreaks of other diarrhoeal diseases.
The purpose of the workshop was to strengthen preparedness and response for cholera outbreaks by having participants:
• Understand the use of the Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) algorithm in assessing and implementing the appropriate laboratory analyses for AGE specimens.
• Implement the appropriate Standard Operating Procedures for the isolation of Vibro species.
• Transfer the knowledge and techniques presented to colleagues within the respective laboratories and at country level.
The following points were identified as the next phase for continued collaboration between CAREC and its member countries:
1. To provide primary testing of stool specimens for member countries and further characterization as required;
2. To provide media required to facilitate testing to member countries based on the results of the Cholera Preparedness Needs Assessment conducted (completed);
3. To conduct follow up exercises with each member country to ensure availability of media and transfer of isolation techniques to colleagues in country;
4. To engage in discussion with the member countries which did not have a representative at the workshop i.e. Curacao, Guyana and the smaller territories of the Netherland Antilles(Bonaire, St. Maarten, St. Eustasius and Saba) and
5. To advocate with country decision makers including chief medical officers, national epidemiologists and laboratory directors for provision of funding and other resources to support enhanced laboratory surveillance of diseases; to encourage data sharing and timely reporting.